School Counselors Face Sharp Growth In Student Needs

Feb 3, 2021, 12:19 AM | Updated: 12:26 am

MURRAY, Utah – School counselors are dealing with a growing list of needs for students at their schools due to the pandemic, and one counselor said Utah needs to see more people stepping up to help families in the community.

You may not have realized it, but this is the start of National School Counseling Week. And while counselors’ jobs are always challenging, this past year was likely the toughest for many of them.

Chances are all of us long for what school used to look like.

“I want to get them all back, and I want to see their faces,” said Amanda Calton, who is perhaps among those who long for it the most. “It’s taking a huge toll on our students’ mental health, and that causes a lot of stress for people like us, who work with kids on a daily basis.”

As a counselor at Cottonwood High School, her job’s challenges grew exponentially about a year ago.

Amanda Calton, Cottonwood High School counselor. (KSL-TV)

“We did a thousand home visits; more than any school in our district,” she said. “And that’s something that counselors, social workers do on a fairly regular basis, but not nearly with that kind of volume.”

She said students not only struggle with things like internet access, but bigger issues, like family job-loss and hunger.

“Need is unbelievable compared to years past,” Calton said. “I’m lucky I work at a school that’s very diverse. It’s socio-economically diverse. It’s ethnically diverse. It’s culturally diverse. We have a large refugee population here.”

But there’s only so much that teachers, counselors and even parents can do.

“I need families that are doing really well to look around them and see the people in their community who aren’t, and find ways that they can support them,” Calton said.

It will take much more than a village to get through this, but the signs down the horizon are already there.

“I’ve had my vaccine,” Calton said. “I have a couple of more weeks to get my second dose.”

There is hope that we are getting through this, and it is getting better. And as COVID-19 vaccines get out there, Calton believes the remedy will be in Utah’s communities working together.

“At the end of the day, this is a place apprised of a lot of people who love kids and who are working really, really hard to keep them healthy and safe and educated,” Calton said.

And while schools like Cottonwood High are meeting in-person, Calton pointed out a lot of students are still at home for varying reasons, and a lot of those are the ones who could use the most help.

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School Counselors Face Sharp Growth In Student Needs